Recorded in January 1969 at Twickenham Film Studios just outside London, Let It Be was a miserable experience for all concerned.
The Beatles were constantly filmed while making the album in the process of falling apart. They were so dispirited that, having recorded the tracks, none of them could be bothered to do the necessary post-production work, which was delegated first to producer George Martin, then to Glyn Johns, and finally to Phil Spector. Their unlucky 13th, and last, album, Let It Be was released on May 8, 1970, in the U.K., topping the chart two weeks later. In America, with 3.7 million advance orders, it achieved the highest initial sale of any album in history, and subsequently picked up an Oscar as best Soundtrack of the Year.
| George Martin : We'd do take after take after take, and then John would be asking whether Take 67 was better than Take 39. I'd say, "John, I honestly don't know." |
"You're no f***ing good then, are you?" he'd say.
That was the general atmosphere.
Engineer Glyn Johns edited the original session tapes into a a finished album called "Get Back." The Beatles could not agree on the final product and the entire project was shelved for over a year until Allen Klein, the Beatles' new manager, dusted it off.
Klein wasn't happy with the quality of the tapes Johns had edited and hired Phil Spector to produce a soundtrack album, giving him the formidable task of sifting through hundreds of hours of studio and live tapes to produce something marketable. Spector, who had never worked with the Beatles before, added orchestrations and female choruses. The resulting record was a disappointment to many Beatle fans and the Beatles themselves. Still, Let It Be was a No. 1 record.
|John Lennon : By the time we got to Let It Be, we couldn't play the game anymore; we couldn't do it anymore. It came to the point where it was no longer creating magic, and the camera, being in the room with us, sort of made us aware of that, that it was a phony situation ...
It was hell making the film Let It Be. When it came out, a lot of people complained about Yoko looking miserable in it. But even the biggest Beatle fan couldn't have sat through those six weeks of misery. It was the most miserable session on earth. |
|Paul McCartney: In fact, what happened, when we got in there, we showed how a break-up of a group works. We didn't realize that we were sort of breaking up as it was happening.
|George Harrison: As everybody knows, we never had much privacy and, you know, this thing that was happening was they were filming us rehearsing. There was a bit of a row going on between Paul and I. You can see it, where he's saying, "Well don't play this," or something and I'm saying, "Well, you know I'll play what you want or I won't play if you don't want it, you know, just make up your mind." That kind of stuff was going on. And they were filming us, recording us having a row, you know, it was like, terrible really. I thought, "I'm quite capable of being relatively happy on my own and I'm not able to be happy in this situation, you know, I'm getting out of here."
|Ringo Starr: I think everyone was getting a little tired of us by then because we were taking a long time and there were many discussions going on by then — many heated discussions.
By the end of 1970, the Beatles had sold over 500 million records.